Somebody forgot to tell the Valley Transportation Authority that the sales tax they were counting on for tens of millions of dollars a year failed miserably on Tuesday.
Fresh off the stunning defeat of Measure A, a business-backed half-cent sales tax for the county that the agency was implicitly counting on to fund projects it had (over)promised voters in 2000, the VTA is going ahead with plans for BART-to-San-Jose and other projects as if the tax had passed.
"They're mad," said Mountain Vice Mayor Greg Perry, the guy who gets picked last for the team whenever the VTA board gets together for barbecues.
Tonight, at a meeting of a five-member task force in Mountain View City Hall, the usual parade of critics from all over the county requested the agency consider a contingency plan, just in case $80 million a year in new revenues do not magically appear.
County Supervisor Liz Kniss -- who warned before the election that the misguided BART project would survive a Measure A defeat but county social services wouldn't -- said VTA is legally obligated to deliver all of the projects it promised in 2000, including BART to San Jose and Santa Clara. This presents a bit of a problem, because:
a) VTA is billions of dollars short of the money it needs to do this.
b) Many of the details of the BART plan are ridiculous.
Aside from being built on custom-gauge rail with custom-built cars that drive up costs and slow down construction and repairs, the plans for the BART extension will require an incredibly expensive tunnel under downtown San Jose. That portion of the line will cost so much and carry so few riders that the agency has had to exclude it from its application for federal funding. At the same time, the agency is building the line from the southern end first, meaning that -- in the event levelheadedness ever makes a comeback on the VTA board -- building a shorter, more efficient line will still not be possible.
Ironically, the failure of the only transit tax I've ever voted against won't stop the reason I voted against it, but will eliminate county social services that I support. For all of you who are in the same boat, I suppose now would be a good time for us to open our wallets for charity.